When: 9:00 pm EST
Where: AT&T Center; San Antonio, TX
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
If you pull up the San Antonio Spurs franchise page at Basketball Reference you’ll quickly notice two consistent pieces of information. First, Gregg Popovic has been the head coach for the last 22 full seasons. Second, you’ll see an asterisk next to each of those full seasons indicating Popovich coached his team to the playoffs. San Antonio’s worst record over that 22-year span was their 47-35 (.573) campaign in 2017-18.
But in Popovich’s 23rd season, the 2019-2020 Spurs are floundering. San Antonio comes in to their game against the Hornets with an un-Spurs-like 21-26 (.447) record while sitting on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoffs. Coach Popovich’s squad was awful in November when they went 2-12 over a 14-game span with losses to the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, and Minnesota Timberwolves (twice). They’ve since regained their winning ways by going 15-13 since that disastrous stretch, but this year’s Spurs are still a perplexing, often confusing team.
The Spurs are led by dynamic shooting guard DeMar DeRozan who averages 23.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge averages 19.1 points and has discovered his three-point shot this year (his 51 made 3s this year already surpasses his previous season high of 37) but Aldridge has missed the team’s last two games with a thumb injury.
Outside of DeRozan and Aldridge the Spurs roster is made up of a collection of capable though limited professional basketball players. Guards Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Patty Mills all play around 24 minutes per game and average somewhere between 10 and 11 points. They combine to form a perfectly tame four-headed monster of acceptable NBA backcourt play. Forward Rudy Gay can score points in stretches while backup center Jakob Poltl is an effective shot blocker in limited minutes.
This game will be a good test for the Hornets and a big confidence builder if they can come away with a road win against a team with a storied legacy and a Hall of Fame coach. San Antonio has lost three of their last four games, including bad losses to the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls, so they’re still not firing on all cylinders.
As we know all too well, the Hornets have lost 15 of their last 18 games. This team could use a big road win and the Spurs are looking more vulnerable now than they have since the Clinton Administration. These are no longer the title-winning Spurs of yesteryear, so let’s hope the shaky hornets can steady the ship with a much needed win in San Antonio.